1988 and 1990 were both good years for Konami - 1988 saw the release of
many classic NES games - Contra, Life Force and Castlevania II: Simon's
Quest, for example. 1990 saw the release of some more NES classics - Super
C, Snake's Revenge, and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse are the big
standouts of '90. 1989 wasn't that good for Konami, though. They could have
released Gradius II and started a great year, but it didn't happen. Konami
was relatively quiet that year - in fact, one of the only Konami game
released that year was a curious Double Dragon/Operation Wolf/Roadblasters
mix called The Adventures of Bayou Billy. While not a terrible game by any
means, Konami could have tweaked the gameplay and the controls and had a
fantastic game. However, Bayou Billy came off as merely average.
You play Bayou Billy, "a regular swamp superhero". Billy does his best to
stop the evil dealings of Gordon, the "gangster king of Bourbon Street",
often stopping his drug shipments, his illegal smuggling, and all of the
other seedy dealings that Gordon is involved in. Finally, Gordon has enough
of Billy's meddling and kidnaps his "best girl", Annabelle. Now it's up to
Billy to get Annabelle back and take down Gordon. . . for good.
The graphics are typical Konami - very good, with that "Konami look" to
them (if you've played any other Konami game, you know what I mean). The
music (what of it there is), is good too, especially the first level's
theme (it can get stuck in your head easily). The sound effects are decent:
there's even some goofy speech at the beginning of the game (a lame
sounding voice says "The Adventures of Bayou Billy!" It's quite amusing).
It's the game's controls that bring Bayou Billy down, however.
Bayou Billy is divided into three different categories - fighting,
shooting, and driving. The only category that controls good would be the
shooting sequences (aim you Zapper at the screen and fire - wow. Or use the
control pad to fire (a novel approach for an NES game - you could choose to
play with the controller or the zapper in the shooting scenes), which isn't
too bad either). The fighting sequences play like Double Dragon with lousy
controls: it can be hard to get Billy to move, and it's hard to get him to
jumpkick sometimes (not that it really does too much damage anyway. . .).
The driving sequences aren't much better - you have two weapons on your
jeep (machine gun and grenades), which are really only effective close up.
Half the time your jeep seems like it's stuck in molasses, and it can be
hard to dodge any oncoming cars (always try to shoot them first).
The other big problem with Bayou Billy is the difficulty: it's pretty hard.
It takes forever for Billy to do damage to Gordon's thugs in the fighting
modes, and when they gang up on you they can kick your ass in no time.
There are nine LONG levels to go through, and you've got to complete it in
one shot - there are NO continues! There's not a lot of food lying around,
so you've got to take as little damage as possible, which is next to
There is a plus - there's a training mode where you can train in any of the
three scenarios. If you complete one, the game tells you that you've done
well and that you will get a reward (it's different for each scenario -
extra health in the fighting scenes, extra time in the driving scenes, and
extra bullets in the shooting scenes). This can help during the actual
game, but not too much: it's like giving a defenseless town three or four
missles to stop an advancing army. Continues or passwords would have helped
A LOT more, guys.
Like I said before, The Adventures of Bayou Billy isn't a completely
terrible game: if you can get used to the controls and the difficulty,
you'll be all set. It's a good idea that just wasn't done as well as it
could have been. . .